Deep Fried Diaries

The insider's scoop on food, travel & southern culture

Isaac Meets Katrina (hurricane reflections)

Everyone can’t help but to draw comparisons between Hurricane Isaac and the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which was seven years ago this week. Isaac has made landfall, and we’re hoping that no extensive damage is left in its wake. The precautionary measures throughout the past couple days have been substantial, particularly for a storm that was only predicted to be a Category 1. Our leeriness, however, is not without reason. It’s a lesson we’ve learned all too well.

My brother, paddling around New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005

Every year, this week brings back many memories for me. I may live in Washington, DC, but my roots are firmly planted in New Orleans (in case you haven’t picked up on that by now). New Orleans is where my husband and I were both born and bred, and it’s also where a majority of our family resided before August 2005. In Katrina, my husband’s parents lost their home, and other relatives of ours were forced out due to unlivable conditions. Seeing their loss was incomprehensible. All we could do was open our home and try to help get our friends and family back on their feet.

My brother, his wife and two kids stayed with us in the months following Katrina. Let me first say that no matter the size of your house, living with relatives is always “close quarters.” Satirical episodes of the Brady Bunch would soon become our “new normal” (although unfortunately there was no Alice), but all that would come later. Once I knew everyone was safe, I reacted to Hurricane Katrina the only way I knew how — time to get the ball rollin’.

Po’ Boy Power was the fundraiser we pulled together in a matter of days. I got 20 chefs together at Acadiana Restaurant making po’ boys (the famed New Orleans-style sandwich), and we raised over $27,000 in two hours. Many of the chefs had ties to New Orleans, either through their restaurant staff or personal associations. Jeff Tunks of Passion Food Hospitality was one of the chefs who had lived in New Orleans. I can remember one of his quotes that day that really hit home: “This food is what we know and love. These people are what we care about. And this is what we can do to help.”  I’d certainly say we put our hearts and souls into it.

I still work closely with the St. Bernard Project, who you all might remember from a recent post. The nonprofit has been dedicated to funding and rebuilding the homes of hurricane victims for the past 7 years. The organization still receives 10+ calls a week, and they help families in need as fast as volunteers and resources will allow.

The St. Bernard Project has been assisting New Orleans families in preparing their homes for Hurricane Isaac this week, and as soon as it passes, they’ll be hitting the ground running once again. CEO Zack Rosenberg released a letter this week to let everyone know that any kind of support is appreciated. Even prayers!

For me each year, the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina reminds me of two things. #1—Count my blessings. Much was lost in Katrina, yet not that which mattered most (my wonderful friends and family). I give thanks to have them here with me.  #2—When it comes to recovery, we still have a long way to go…

So let’s get crackin’ people. New Orleans still needs our love!

LINK: NBC Washington interviews David, “Worries Over Loved Ones Caught in Isaacs Path”

My husband David’s parents’ house after Hurricane Katrina

Po’ Boy Power! At Acadiana Restaurant in Washington, DC

Some of our lovely Po’ Boy Power chefs. That’s Carla Hall, of ABC’s The Chew, there on the right.

My sister-in-law Alexandra, with Mitch Landrieu (current mayor of New Orleans) at Po’ Boy Power

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